Yemen is failing. Not only is it the Arab world’s poorest nation and challenged by mass protests, it is home to a resurgent al-Qaeda, a northern Shi’ite uprising and a revitalized southern secessionist movement. Yemen’s 1990 North-South unification is not working. Today, Yemen stands alongside Pakistan as one of the most important al-Qaeda strongholds in the world and many of that organization’s most dangerous operations have originated there. Judging from their actions, the extremists are both motivated and highly capable. In brief, the underlying sources of instability in Yemen are insoluble over the short run. The country is running out of oil and water. Its leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is proving incapable of holding the country together without force. Transitioning Yemen towards a more democratic system will only mean a hardening of tribal divisions and a deepening of the corruption, clientelism and cronyism that are rife throughout the country.

The New Terrorism Understanding Yemen